Author's note: I can not thank you all enough for your patience. The support of your emails and reviews really made the difference in fending off writer's block. Now, on to the show...

Chapter 7: Taking Over Me

Breaking off their kiss regretfully, she took a deep shaky breath. "That was a minute?" she asked unsteadily as she took stock of how much they'd managed to accomplish in such a little time.

"I gave us five minutes," he said unapologetically as he eased her down off his body and set her feet on the floor. They looked at each other in silence for a long minute before each taking a step back.

"Miss Granger," he said quietly with a nod before grabbing his wand off the table and turning his back to her to compose himself.

"Professor Snape," she replied in the same even tone as she secured the dressing gown's tie around her waist once more. Pressing a hand to her flushed cheek, she sank into a nearby chair.

"Sartor Resartus," He muttered as he pointed the wand at his massacred top.

"Why do you use that spell instead of Repairo?" she asked to fill the awkward silence.

"I have my clothes custom made," he replied matter-of-factly as he manually buttoned the shirt. The spell could have fastened it automatically, but he found the action a welcome distraction as he tried to calm his racing pulse. "Repairo is less than exact in its attention to fine detail. The Guild of Mystical Seamstresses created the Sartor Resartus spell to replace it when repairs were needed for custom tailored clothes."

"Sartor Resartus..." she repeated to herself as she mentally translated the words. "The tailor patched...How fitting."

"Indeed," he said tonelessly as he moved over to his armoire to retrieve some fresh clothes. He considered wearing his more comfortable weekend robes for a moment, but with a quick glance toward the statue of a woman watching him intensely from the other side of the room, he reached instead for his most austere teaching robes. The look on her face when he turned back to her was bemused, but understanding. He obviously wasn't the only one who felt the need to reestablish some much-needed distance.

Conjuring an opaque screen to shield himself from her chocolate eyes, he cast several freshening spells and quickly changed into more acceptable attire. "Tell me, Miss Granger," he said as he banished the screen, "what do you know about Chakras from your extra-curricular research?"

She found the reappearance of his "Professor Snape" persona was more difficult to bear than expected. Swallowing past the heavy lump in her throat, she tamped down the unfamiliar pain until it sat in uneasy ball in the bottom of her stomach. "Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel or vortex." She cleared her throat at the raspy sound of her voice. "It refers to each of the seven energy centers which our consciousness, our energy system, is composed of." Loosing herself in the familiar act of instruction, she stood up and began to pace as she explained.

"These Chakra centers function as pumps and valves, regulating the flow of energy throughout our system. While not a physical manifestation, they're aspects of consciousness in the same way that the auras are - just denser. They interact with the physical body through two major vehicles: the endocrine and the nervous systems. Each of the seven Chakras is associated with one of the major endocrine glands, and also with a group of nerves called a plexus. This association relates to particular parts of the body and specific functions within the body controlled by that plexus or endocrine gland." Sitting down at the table, he watched in amusement as she gesticulated wildly throughout her speech to illustrate her meaning. Leaning covertly back in his chair just in time to avoid a flailing limb, he swallowed a chuckle at her inadvertent and unnoticed attack on his person. The closest anyone had gotten to hitting him in years, and it was completely unintentional. Oh the irony.

Unaware of how much entertainment she was providing him, she continued waving her arms, "All senses, perceptions, possible states of awareness, and everything that can be possibly experienced can be divided into seven categories. Each category is associated with a particular Chakra. Thus, the Chakras represent not only particular parts of your physical body, but also aspects of your consciousness."

Musing that there was no telling how long she'd continue if left unchecked, he caught her wrist as it swung by him on her next turn past the table. A bolt of heat shot through her at the sensation of his warm fingers circling her skin and her dialogue screeched to a halt. Blinking in surprise at his unexpected move, she found herself incapable of doing anything but gaping at him in shock.

Belatedly, it occurred to him that touching her was still a very bad idea. A warm pulse of electricity tingled between them where his skin touched hers. "That's enough, Miss Granger," He said as he released her hand. "Have a seat." Numbly, she obeyed his command and settled herself back across the table from him. Pouring them both more tea, he took a deep breath before speaking again. "Your research on the subject seems quite exhaustive. If I'd allowed you to continue I'm sure you would have enumerated each of the Chakra centers titles and associations, correct?" Looking up from his cup to see her nod in affirmative, he took a drink and continued, "The only ones we'll be utilizing for our spell are the fourth, fifth, and sixth centers: Anahata, Vishudda, and Ajna. Performing Kundalini will pinpoint the exact chakral locations, allowing us to cast the binding charm linking those centers of Empathy, Consciousness, and Perception. The activating spell for the charm is Siddhis. Once cast, we will simultaneously touch the centers with our hands and name the three Chakras we'll be binding together in order, ending in the center of the chest at Anahata." Pausing to take another sip of tea to soothe his dry throat, he continued, "At that point, there should be some indication that the nexus linkage was successful." Squinting down at the open book still laying on the table, he smirked. "I can only hope that this 'sign' doesn't entail any explosions. The book is unspecific as to what we'll experience and I prefer my personal workroom unmarred."

Intrigued by the knowledge that they'd be performing this ritual in his private lab, which to her knowledge had never been seen by student eyes, she leaned forward for a better view of the text. "Once we gather the rest of the potion's ingredients, none of this should pose much of a problem," she said contemplatively as she skimmed the passage. "But I'm still a little unclear about the end result. In layman's terms, what exactly does all this do - besides provide us with some unwelcome body art? I know you said we'd be constantly aware of each other's position, but how far does that go? And will this new magical tattoo be affected by the one you already posses?"

Downing the remainder of his tea with a quick swallow, he carefully set the cup back on the table before answering with a sneer. "Layman's terms? Have I finally succeeded in over-taxing your vaunted powers of comprehension, Miss Granger? A note-worthy day indeed..." One eyebrow rose at her mockingly. "I do believe I explained this all once already. How far must I go in simplifying to facilitate your understanding?"

*Sarcastic bastard.* She thought at him with exasperated fondness as she replied derisively aloud, "Try second year Ravenclaw. Barring that, you're welcome to revert to first year Slytherin if I still fail to grasp the concept to your satisfaction."

Making a sour face at the underhand dig at his house, he took a calming breath. "Fine, then," He said finally with a newfound seriousness that belied his earlier teasing. Straightened in his chair, he continued, "As black and white as I can make it: The Bridge of Ether can only be dissolved by the death of both parties. Should one of us die that person would remain tied to this plane as a ghost until the other passes. Once we're both dead the Bridge is dissolvable and we're free unless we choose otherwise."

"Choose otherwise?" she interjected curiously.

Pinching the bridge of his nose, he replied, "One of the main reasons this spell is used so sparingly is its permanence. As I said before, it's performed almost exclusively by couples with an intimate connection - be it love or friendship. It's far too dangerous to do otherwise. Should love turn to hate or friendship be betrayed, there is no escape from this Bond. As such, the few who consider this spell an option and are able to cast it to completion are so close that they often choose not to be separated by even death..."

Frowning, she contemplated his words. "You make it sound as if the failure rate in attempting this spell is high..."

Meeting her eyes, she could feel his apprehension through the link. "Do not mistake me, Hermione - I meant to imply exactly that. The spell will not allow people who are inherently unsuited to one another to be coupled. I presented this as an option only because the Headmaster was pressing the Sumpsuchos ritual onto us, hoping that the forces behind the incantation will recognize our existing connection and deem it acceptable. He may've manipulated me into offering this as an alternative, but I have no doubt Professor Dumbledore is as aware of the odds we face as I."

"I'm certain you didn't mention that before," she said in accusation. Chewing on her bottom lip, she mulled over the ramifications of what he'd just told her. Looking up suddenly, she caught his eyes. "You called me Hermione."

Nonplussed by her random comment, it took him a moment to catch up. "That's your name, isn't it?" he asked in consternation.

"One of them," she smirked as she rose from her seat and rounded the table. Watching her approach with suspicious eyes, he stiffened in place as she pushed the table out of the way and slid into his lap.

"Cat..."He gulped out in a strangled voice, too surprised by her unexpected actions to stop her.

"That's another one," she murmured in amusement as she lay her head against his shoulder and swung her legs out across the edge of the chair. Forced to move his arm from the rest or have her legs trap it beneath them the flummoxed man found his hand settling on her hip, effectively caging the girl in a loose embrace. Snuggling against the base of his neck, the heat from her breath warmed his skin as she spoke, "I doubt very seriously compatibility will be a problem for us. What else?"

"You do realise," he said as coldly as he could manage, "that my calling you Hermione was just a verbal slip and NOT an invitation..."

"I prefer to think of it as Freudian," she replied sedately as she raised a hand to his chest and pressed it above the place his heart was beating a frantic thump. "Calm down, Severus. I'm not going to molest you."

The sheer ridiculousness of that statement startled a guffaw out of him. "Molest me? As if I were some nervous Victorian virgin on her wedding night..." The tension flowed out of him with his chuckle and he laced his hands together at her waist. Shaking his head, he settled his chin on top of her crown of honeyed curls ruefully. "Weren't we supposed to be avoiding this type of inappropriate behaviour?"

"Surely you can't mean your chivalrous comforting of an understandably distraught pupil?" she asked in mock innocence. "Who could fault you for that?" He laughed quietly at the mental picture of wide-eyed virtue she projected to him. "The Headmaster?" he replied with a snicker in his voice. "I died, Sev." She responded with wry humour, "If he weren't the type of man that that would earn us some leeway with, you'd be in Azkaban right now."

"Impertinent chit," he snorted into her hair. "Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem." *In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags.*

"Oh yeah? Well - Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris." *If Caesar were alive, you'd be chained to an oar.* Chuckling against his shirt, she added, "You do realise switching languages does you no good. If you speak it, even if I didn't know the language before, I would understand it. And my Latin's not bad to begin with. Now, get back to explaining the Bridge of Ether before I decide to take offense to the fact that you just called me a child."

Rolling his eyes at what he deemed an absurd remark, he leered down at her. "You don't scare me, Little Girl." Looking up at his trademark expression as he loomed over her, a wicked smile spread across her face. He found himself shifting uncomfortably at the husky timbre of her voice when she replied, "If I did decide to take offense and disprove your hypothesis, scaring you would be the last thing on my mind."

Taking a deep calming breath, he reached up and tapped the tip of her nose with his finger. "Be good," he admonished her as forced himself to focus on the ritual they were ostensibly discussing. "If the spell accepts us..."

"WHEN the spell accepts us," she corrected.

Rolling his eyes again, he ignored her and continued. "ASSUMING the spell accepts us, the stabilization it affords will nullify the distance requirements we're currently experiencing." Reaching over her and across the table, he dragged the book over so they could both read it. "The best example I've found describing what the bond is like from an insider's perspective was a quote from Marlain the Red, who participated in the Bridge with her husband..." Flipping swiftly through the pages, he was quick to locate the passage, "Ah, here it is: 'From that moment on, he was always with me. Nor was there a distance that could bar me from his side. His thoughts, his feelings, his very existence were mine...just as mine were now shared with him.'" He cleared his throat uneasily at the picture that painted. "There are spells, of course, that will allow us a small degree of control. Certain shielding techniques will also be useful..." Sagging regretfully, he leaned his head back on the chair. "Useful, but none of them will be completely successful. The very nature of what we are attempting prohibits it. I fear we are caught between the very definition of a rock and a hard place. You know firsthand the types of activities I'm subjected to in my role as a spy. By default, you would now be a party to those acts of depravity as well."

"Whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling..." She murmured a line from an old e.e. cummings poem before biting her bottom lip fretfully.

He cringed at the endearment, but nodded tiredly. "Exactly. For all that you will lack control over my actions, you will still have to endure them. I am the only spy the Order has in the Dark Lord's inner circle. It is not a role I can cast off with impunity or a source of information we can afford to lose." Easing her back from him, he tilted her chin up to meet his eyes. "The question becomes then, can you endure it? Because if not, we need to begin searching for other alternatives." Sighing regretfully, he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Truthfully, I don't think I fully considered the ramifications of this spell before I offered it as a solution." Meeting her eyes again, he smiled self-mockingly, "Trying to out manoeuvre Albus has a tendency to leave me off balance, and never seems to have the outcome that I would like."

She smiled weakly back at him. "I don't think out manoeuvreing him is possible, actually. He just likes to make us think it is." The feeble grin melted off her face like butter. "Are there any alternatives that you can think of? Even Sumpsuchos is beginning to sound less frightening..."

With a pained grimace, he considered. Finally he answered with a resolved sigh, "If we had a year, or even a month, I can think of several options. As it is, from Poppy's diagnosis I fear we have only days before being separated by more than inches becomes not only unbearable but impossible."

"So we are back to where we started. Be married for eternity or be forced to suffer through the torture and murder of innocent people." She spat out unhappily, "Gee, which to choose?"

"On the bright side, I am not exactly trusted by either faction," he said almost hopefully. "It's entirely possible I may be dead well before the year is out." She leaned back and gaped at him in horror. He shrugged unapologetically. "If you choose the Bridge I'll at least know in advance and have the opportunity to weaken the wards against ghosts. Then you'll be free and I'll still be able to continue my spying activities without having to harm anyone."

She wasn't even aware of telling her hand to move, but the next thing she knew her palm was stinging and the side of his face was red from her vicious slap. "Don't you dare even say such a thing!" She raged as she leapt out of his lap.

The planes of his face smoothed into blocks of ice as he stared at her coldly. The arctic waves of his sudden anger crashed through the link into her burning fury as he rose slowly from the chair to tower over her. "Don't I dare?" he sneered angrily down at her. "Just like a Gryffindor to refuse to acknowledge the most expedient solution simply because it offends her fragile sensibilities."

"FRAGILE!" She sputtered in outrage as she yelled in his face, "You, you condescending BASTARD! Don't you even talk about getting yourself killed like it's NOTHING! As if your death would be of no importance!" In sheer frustration she began beating her fists against his chest.

"As long as I'm getting the job done, what does it matter!" he screamed back as he caught her flailing arms and trapped her against his chest. "IT MATTERS TO ME!" she screeched as she struggled in his hold.

"Insolent bint!" he snarled as she writhed against him. "Poncey git!" she growled back as she grabbed handfuls of his robes near the collar as if to shake him. "PONCEY?!" He roared in outrage, "I'll show you PONCEY!" Snaking an arm around her, he pulled her entire body flush against his and tangled his other hand roughly in her hair, yanking her head back to accept him before attacking her mouth. She bucked against him like a wild thing, indignantly trying to force him away. When it became apparent that no amount of force she possessed would dislodge him, she counter attacked. Teeth gnashed against teeth and tongues fought a desperate battle for dominance. Neither was sure who softened first (surely it must have been the other!), but before long the bites became nips and his bruising grip had melted into a caress. Easing finally away from one another with soft kisses, they were both panting as he pressed his lips against her forehead and unknotted his fingers from her curls.

"If we keep doing that, Sumpsuchos may get chosen for us," he chuckled sardonically into her hair. Resting her head against his chest as her breathing slowed, the rapid pulse of his heart seemed to thrum through her body. Wrapping her arms around him, she whispered seriously into his chest, "I'm not ready to be married to anyone for this life, let alone the rest of eternity."

"I know," he sighed as he ran a soothing hand down her back. "Me either."

"That's it then, the Bridge of Ether it is," she said resolutely. "Are you sure you can handle it?" He asked quietly. "If you can, I can," she snapped back. He stiffened in her arms at the tone and she sighed. Shaking her head, she took a deep breath, "I'm sorry, Severus. That was uncalled for. Truthfully I don't know, but I have to try. Depending on how the Bridge actually works once we put it into practice, this may turn out to be quite a coup for the Order." Looking up to see the eyebrow he'd quirked questioningly at her, she shrugged and continued. "Now instead of one spy, they have two. I can relate to the Headmaster anything of importance before you even leave the Revel."

He took a deep breath and held it thoughtfully before releasing it in an even stream. "A fine idea. Too often have there been instances where lives could have been saved if only I'd been able to escape that bastard Lucius sooner."

"Just promise me one thing," she said so earnestly that he found himself looking down into her eyes once again. "Promise me that you won't throw your life away." He opened his mouth to speak but got no farther than her name before she silenced him with a finger to the lips. "I know you can't promise not to die. We're in the middle of a war, casualties happen." She laughed harshly, "I know that first hand! Just promise that if you can find a way to get out alive for me you will."

Reaching up, he kissed the finger she still held against his lips and lowered it. Searching her eyes, he took a moment to revel in the concern, worry, and affection the bond leaked from her mind to his. Pressing the hand he held over his heart, he nodded solemnly. "I promise."

"That's all I ask," she said softly as she lay her head once more against his shoulder. "That's all I ask..."

"I have to be with you to live, to breathe; you're taking over me." - Taking Over Me, Fallen, Evanescence


1. Hermione's Chakra information lifted almost verbatim from The Brofman Foundation for the Advancement of Healing's website. In an attempt to circumvent's tendency to remove website addresses from stories, I've added asterisks to the address. To visit them, just remove the *'s: h*t*t*p*://w*w*w*.h*e*a*l*e*r*.c*h*/i*n*d*e*x*.h*t*m*l

Severus' pulled from: h*t*t*p*://*s*i*v*a*s*a*k*t*i*.*c*o*m*/*a*r*t*i*c*l*e*s*/*t*h*e*- *s*e*v*e*n*-*c*h*a*k*r*a*s*-*a*j*n*a*.*h*t*m*l

2. i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) is the e.e. cummings poem quoted by Hermione and can be found here: h*t*t*p*://*w*w*w*.*k*-*b*- *c*.*c*o*m*/*p*o*e*t*r*y*_*e*e*c*.*h*t*m